2018 Awards Profile: Jacques Audiard’s ‘The Sisters Brothers’ from Annapurna Pictures

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Welcome to the 2018 Awards Profile series, where we talk about films coming to a theater near you at some point this year (at least at this time of writing). We will analyze the potential for these films to be players for the Academy Awards, and while many of these have the potential to be recognized, many will not, either by quality or being pushed back to the following year. For the next few weeks, we will bring you a film every Monday through Friday to talk about their awards hopes and analyze the film’s chances for success. If you have a suggestion, please include it in the comments below. If you missed a film, click on the tag or category Awards Profile.

FILM: “The Sisters Brothers”
PRODUCERS: Michael De Luca, Megan Ellison, John C. Reilly, and more
DISTRIBUTOR: Annapurna Pictures

DIRECTOR: Jacques Audiard
WRITERS: Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain

CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, John C. Reilly, Riz Ahmed, Niels Arestrup, Rutger Hauer, Carol Kane, and more

SYNOPSIS (via iMDB): In 1850s Oregon, a gold prospector is chased by the infamous duo of assassins, the Sisters brothers.

WHY IT MIGHT SUCCEED:

If there’s a filmmaker making non-English language features who are doing better work than Jacques Audiard, then the list is a short one. The director behind “Dheepan,” “A Prophet,” and “Rust and Bone” has shown incredible talent. Now, making his American debut with a period western, Audiard may very well be on the way to achieving his greatest success yet. So far, he’s been a foreign independent darling, but that could be changing. If he has a hit with “The Sisters Brothers,” he’ll full on be an A-list filmmaker. From there, the possibilities for him would be endless.

Audiard has a hell of a cast on hand. Jake Gyllenhaal, Joaquin Phoenix, and John C. Reilly are the main trio, which is eclectic and kind of a brilliant mix. Throw in Riz Ahmed, among others, and this under the radar has one of the year’s best little casts. Gyllenhaal and Phoenix have other contenders for 2018, but this may very well be their best bet. Throw in cinematography by Benoît Debie and the flick has a wonderful pedigree to begin within adapting Patrick Dewitt‘s novel.

“The Sisters Brothers” is yet another 2018 release from Annapurna Pictures that seeks to make the distributor the next Oscar-winning juggernaut. With Megan Ellison‘s company looking to make a splash in the awards race on their own, this offering could be the one to do it. A lot will depend on their other titles on the slate (which we’ll come back to later), but the talent involved suggests that this won’t be an easily dismissed work. Annapurna has shown excellent taste so far, and this shouldn’t be any different.

Right now, depending on how the year goes, we could see “The Sisters Brothers” become a solid player. If Audiard is on his game like usual, there’s no reason not to look at this as a dark horse Oscar contender. Especially given the potential of Gyllenhaal facing off with Phoenix and Reilly, you have to be excited for this one.

WHY IT MIGHT NOT SUCCEED:

For every foreign director who matches their success when coming stateside, there are plenty of others who don’t see their work properly translate. Audiard faces this challenge with “The Sisters Brothers.” Perhaps audiences just won’t be ready to see him make the transition? Despite the excellent cast, none are box office draws. Plus, Gyllenhaal could have “Rio” to take away attention, while Phoenix has the just released “You Were Never Really Here.” If either of those catches on instead, this could turn into an also ran for them.

“The Sisters Brothers” may also just not come out this year. Its only confirmed release date is a 2019 European one. To be fair, it’s easy to have it just take up shop in December if Annapurna opts for it, but there’s reason to suspect that it might not hit until next year. If so, it won’t be a 2018 player, but not for a lack of quality. Logistics would just keep it on the sideline in that case.

We sound like a broken record at this point, but it’s worth repeating again. As promising as Annapurna is as a distributor, they still haven’t done much as their own self-sufficient company. There’s also the risk that they can’t handle multiple strong contenders, what with “Backseat” (or whatever it ends up being called) their probable meal ticket. There’s also “Where’d You Go Bernadette” to consider. They’ll almost certainly attempt to give attention to all of their films, but that could ultimately be wishful thinking.

POTENTIAL OSCAR CATEGORIES IN PLAY:

Motion Picture – Michael De Luca, Megan Ellison, John C. Reilly, and more, etc
Director – Jacques Audiard
Actor in a Leading Role – Jake Gyllenhaal and Joaquin Phoenix (Either could go Supporting)
Actor in a Supporting Role – John C. Reilly
Adapted Screenplay – Jacques Audiard and Thomas Bidegain
Production Design – Michel Barthélémy
Cinematography – Benoît Debie
Costume Design – Milena Canonero
Film Editing – Juliette Welfling
Makeup & Hairstyling
Original Score – Alexandre Desplat

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN THE COMMENTS!

CHECK OUT THE FIRST OFFICIAL SET OF
YEAR-IN-ADVANCE OSCAR PREDICTIONS
AND SEE WHERE “THE SISTERS BROTHERS” RANKS!